A missionary sacrifice blurred in the mists of obscurity

January 9, 2017 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Margao, January 9, 2017: The Discalced Carmelites of Goa cherishes a dream; that of pulling the first two martyrs of the worldwide order out of obscurity.

“St Xavier died far away and was brought to Goa. Now, there is so much veneration for him. St Vaz died in the 18th century and his memories were revived and kept alive. But the memory of our martyrs, who died in Sumatra, Indonesia, has almost become extinct back in Goa,” superior of the Carmelite Monastery, Margao, Fr Archibald Gonsalves said.

In the 17th century, the Carmelite’s foundation monastery in Old Goa nurtured Blessed Redemptus, a Portuguese soldier and Fr Dionysius, a French sailor and cartographer, into missionaries of the order.

On November 29 last year, the Carmelites visited the monastery’s ruins to relive the day of Blessed Dionysius’s and Redemptus’s martyrdom. The arches of the Do Carmo church, which was once located in a sprawling, 32,000 sq m monastery complex, still stand tall and imposing like the nearby St Augustine tower.

The site, where the duo joined the Carmelites and took professional vows, has become an inspirational wellspring for the order worldwide. Two family members, descendants of one of the martyrs from Spain, also visited the site last year.

“Carmelites from around the world still visit this site regularly out of emotional attachment, as our first two martyrs were trained here and sent to Indonesia,” Gonsalves said.

The Carmelite dream is to re-establish itself at the 17th century foundation site. After the Portuguese ordered deportation of its members to Portugal, the Carmelites had also lost their property in Goa. The new foundation at Margao was set up on March 19, 1939, just a year after the third centenary of the duo’s martyrdom.

In the 1980s, provincial of Carmelites Goa-Karnataka province, Fr Nemesio Alzola, heard about the site at Old Goa. With the help of a retired bank manager, social activists and history lover Mariano Dias, he dug deep into the history of the foundation monastery.

“We have in our possession only 925 sq m, which constitutes the historical ruins of the chapel. This could be considered a silver jubilee gift from our beloved Fr Nemesio, who died in 1995, to our province,” said Gonsalves.

The Carmelites are struggling to reclaim the huge monastery and orchard around it. “We have plans to reconstruct the church like Cruz dos Milagros at Old Goa from sketches preserved in our Generalate in Rome,” Gonsalves added.

The pilgrimage site for nearly 20,000 Carmelites in Asia also has tombs of prominent royal family members and Carmelite friars on its premises.

“This is the cradle of our Carmelites in Asia and has special significance for our order the world over. There are 80 religious Carmelites in Indonesia and now, it has become a province. We want to make this site a centre of spirituality for Carmelites in Asia,” said Gonsalves.

– times of india

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!